Most Highly Regarded Firms: Banking 2014

In this edition Who's Who Legal selects 511 practitioners from 240 firms across 70 different countries who are considered leaders in the field of banking law. Several firms stood out in our research due to the high number of listings they receive, with Clifford Chance garnering more than any other firm this year. The firm has 23 of its lawyers singled out, with its London office being especially well represented with 11 inclusions. Following closely behind is Allen & Overy, which fields 19 practitioners recognised across 10 of its offices, demonstrating the firm's impressive geographical reach. Sullivan & Cromwell and Linklaters both perform extremely well, achieving 10 listings each.

We also identify the 10 most highly regarded individuals in the world, with Randall Guynn of Davis Polk & Wardwell achieving more nominations than any other practitioners in this year's research.

Most Highly Regarded Individuals
Lawyer Firm
Randall Guynn Davis Polk & Wardwell, New York
Rodgin Cohen Sullivan & Cromwell, New York
René Bösch Homburger, Zurich
Robert Tortoriello Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, New York
Stephen Kensell Allen & Overy, London
Bruno Balduccini Pinheiro Neto, Sao Paulo
Michael Wiseman Sullivan & Cromwell, New York
Lee Meyerson Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, New York
Mark Campbell Clifford Chance, London  
Phillip Cornwell Allens, Sydney

We select 512 leading lawyers to appear in this edition, our largest to date. All have been recommended by corporate counsel and other private practitioners around the world, and the book encompasses 70 countries and 241 firms. The following firms performed most strongly in our international research and earned the highest number of representations overall.

Clifford Chance returns to the top of our research after a three-year hiatus, and sees 23 of its lawyers selected for inclusion across seven of its offices. Chief among these is London, where Mark Campbell is global head of finance and one of the practice area’s most highly recommended practitioners worldwide. Described as “formidably impressive”, he advised the arranging banks on the $40 billion facility for Rio Tinto in connection with its purchase of Alcan. Karen Hodson was picked out to researchers as a “very gifted lawyer, client-orientated and a real pleasure to work with”, and Taner Hassan’s financing practice is highly rated. Nicola Wherity is extremely well respected for her corporate banking and financing expertise, while James Johnson “works tirelessly, and more to the point tremendously effectively for his clients”. Jim MacHale is recognised across the full spectrum of corporate work and has been involved in acquisition financings and restructurings across the UK and Europe. Simon Gleeson “stands out” for his regulatory expertise in particular, and was seconded to the UK Financial Services Authority to assist with the development of the market abuse regime. Malcolm Sweeting is the firm’s senior partner and internationally respected in the field.

Alexandra Hagelüken is head of banking and capital markets Germany and is very well regarded for her domestic and cross-border financing work, while the structured finance practice of Riko Vanezis is said to be “extremely impressive”. He is also much in demand from clients for corporate finance restructurings. Bettina Steinhauer also performs very well in our research. In the Netherlands, Jelle Hofland is renowned for all types of financing, particularly in the aviation industry, and two further nominees are selected in Russia: clients “have worked with Logan Wright on quite a number of significant financings in recent years and he has an excellent practice and reputation” and Adam Fadian is also well-known. The firm is strong in Singapore with three partners selected for inclusion. Andrew Brereton is “first class” for financings, restructurings and workouts while Andrew Gambarini is similarly well regarded across all types of finance work. Ting Ting Tan is “quite brilliant”, recommended in particular for her expertise relating to the energy industry and cross-border financings in Asia and Europe. Anthony Wang gives the firm a presence in the Hong Kong listing, and Fabricio Longhin does likewise for the firm in DC with recognition for his energy and infrastructure

Nineteen lawyers are selected from Allen & Overy, showcasing a “tremendously impressive geographical breadth of practice” that incorporates 10 of its offices around the world. Stephen Kensell is co-head of the global banking practice and one of four nominees based in London. Described as “world class for all types of debt financing”, he is one of the most highly regarded lawyers in the field overall. Timothy Polglase heads the global leveraged finance practice and is “undeniably one of the best in the business”, renowned for his domestic and cross-border work. The financing practice of George Link is “phenomenally impressive”, and Michael Duncan is a “big name in the market”, recognised for the depth of his experience and expertise. Robert Kartheiser gives the firm a valuable presence in the highest echelon of the New York market, where he heads the project practice and is renowned for his Latin American work – he advised Deutsche Bank in a transaction with Petrobras involving a gas-fired power plant in Brazil.

Three partners are selected in the Dubai office, where Christian Saunders is well known for his restructuring work in particular, and a further trio are listed in Sydney. Adam Stapledon is very highly regarded for his project financing work as well as his expertise in relation to structured finance, while Jason Huinink is “excellent across all types of financing transactions”. Chris Robertson is “much in demand across the region” for his acquisition and leveraged finance expertise. Kayal Sachi is “one of the best in Singapore for banking transactional work”, and she is listed alongside John Richards who was selected in recognition of his work across a range of financing transactions. He is particularly well known for his Indonesia-related practice, where we also list Daniel Ginting, Managing Partner of Ginting & Reksodiputro and “one of the first ports of call for all types of banking work” – he has worked on the mergers and acquisitions of banks and financial institution and also spent a seven-month period working in the credit recovery unit of The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. Elsewhere, Stephen Matthews heads the firm’s banking practice in Russia and is “top drawer for all types of financing”.

White & Case grows its contingent markedly this year, and now sees 13 of its lawyers recognised as leaders in this field. Four are based in the US, where Eric Berg heads the global practice and is “one of the foremost experts in the field.” Ernest Patrikis is a “legendary figure” having formerly served in senior positions for 30 years at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and for eight years at AIG. The “eminent” Duane Wall is a former head of the firm and current head of its bank advisory practice, and is “absolutely the first number to dial” for many clients in relation to their operations in the US and overseas. In London, Lee Cullinane is the firm’s regional section head for EMEA and is recognised for his skills across the full range of banking work; he acted for the Bank of England in relation to financing and temporary private ownership of Northern Rock. Alongside him, Magdalene Bayim-Adomako is described as a “real star”. A former in house counsel at UBS, she is very well regarded for her financing practice across a wide range of countries worldwide. Jacqueline Evans has a “highly impressive client list” and also performed very well in the research. The firm’s European credentials are underlined by further nominees in Hungary and the Czech Republic, and its global profile is demonstrated by inclusions in Mexico – where Juan Antonio Martin formerly worked at Mexico’s Central Bank on the implementation of the banking system and broker-dealers bailout programmes – Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong. John Hartley heads the Asia banking, capital markets and restructuring practice in the latter and has represented clients such as HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas and Bank of China.

Sullivan & Cromwell is home to some of the leading banking experts in the world, and performs extremely strongly in our research once again with 10 lawyers selected, including some of the pre-eminent experts worldwide. “Everybody knows” Rodgin Cohen, senior chairman of the firm and “an icon of banking law”. Renowned for his recent work on regulatory, enforcement and internal investigations of financial institutions including those involving ABN AMRO, Bank of New York, Standard Chartered and Wells Fargo, he is also recognised for a “first class” transactional and bank acquisition practice at home and abroad. Alongside him in the New York office, and in our list of the area’s most highly regarded practitioners, Michael Wiseman is “exceptionally well regarded” and “a feature on the largest deals”. He advised AIG in connection with the $85 billion emergency financing plan with the Federal Reserve, as well as Goldman Sachs in its conversion to a bank holding company and UBS in recent capital-raising activity. Mark Welshimer “knows this sector inside out” and is much in demand for his regulatory counsel, as well as for his capital markets and structured finance expertise. Mitchell Eitel co-heads the firm’s financial institutions group and is very highly rated with a string of high-profile instructions including the representation of the Bank of New York in its merger with Mellon, and Barclays in the acquisition of Lehman Brothers’ brokerage business. The regulatory counsel of Michael Escue is also much in demand, and he advised The Bank of New York Co in connection with its merger with Mellon Financial Corp. The firm also has two nominees in DC, including the “very talented” Virgil Mattingly, former general counsel to the Federal Reserve Board, and in Los Angeles as well as a presence in Tokyo through the selection of Keiji Hatano, who is feted for his transactional work including acting on behalf of The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ in its pending acquisition of Bank of Ayudhya.

The 10 nominees from Linklaters include four from a “very strong” London office. Gideon Moore is global head of the banking practice and “a leading light of the UK market”. Philip Spittal is recognised as “first class” for his work on behalf of lenders and borrows in domestic and international finance transactions, while co-head of the firm’s leveraged finance practice Nick Syson was internationally recommended for his expertise in advising arranging banks on financial sponsor-backed leveraged finance transactions, as well as for his counsel to co-ordinating bank and steering committees on debt restructurings. The firm’s banking expertise is recognised across Europe, including Germany where Eva Reudelhuber is “outstanding” for syndicated lending, project acquisition and structured finance. Philip Badge also performs well in Singapore.

Seven nominees appear from Davis Polk & Wardwell in New York. Randall Guynn heads the financial institutions group and is “one of the foremost experts in this field worldwide”, an assessment borne out by our research. He has advised the advised the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association and The Clearing House Association, and “knows all there is to know about US banking law”. Jason Kyrwood is “one of the top players in the field, articulate and commercial in his dealings”. He is very well known for his corporate finance expertise, particularly in relation to leveraged and investment-grade acquisition financings. His clients have included Bank of America, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs and Citibank. Margaret Tahyar is a “regulatory guru”, particularly in relation to Dodd Frank, and Bradley Smith’s “world class” finance practice has included clients such as JP Morgan, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Citigroup. John Douglas gives clients the benefit of his “unrivalled insight” as a former general counsel of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, while James Florack co-heads the firm’s credit group and is “sharp, effective and excellent”. Waide Warner’s project finance expertise is recognised across the US and internationally.

Six of the seven lawyers listed from Shearman & Sterling are also based in New York, with the highly rated Anthony Ward who splits his time between the London and Frankfurt offices also selected. Bradley Sabel can call upon the experience gained from serving as an attorney for 18 years at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and his regulatory expertise is much in demand. He advised Merrill Lynch in relation to its acquisition by Bank of America. Reade Ryan is of counsel to the firm and renowned for his structured finance and securitisation expertise, while Cynthia Urda Kassis is “among the foremost projects experts in the US, indeed the world” according to our sources.

Sidley Austin is another firm to grow its contingent in this edition, with Angela Fontana joining the firm’s Dallas office in late 2013 from Weil Gotshal & Manges and bringing with her a “stellar” financing and debt restructuring practice. The firm’s Chicago office is very strong, with the finance practice of James Clark and Gary Stern picked out for particular praise. Michael Gold is often sought out to represent banks as lenders, and has acted for clients such as Bank of America and Wells Fargo. Zulfiqar Bokhari “is an absolute pleasure to do business with” and his clients include JPMorgan, Bank of America / Merrill Lynch, BNP Paribas and Morgan Stanley. Senior counsel Bruce Bernstein is very well known for his expertise counselling banks and lenders in relation to secured transactions and restructurings.

The New York office of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton is home to “some real big hitters”, including one of the 10 most highly nominated lawyers in our global research overall: Robert Tortoriello. He is “encyclopaedic in his knowledge of banking regulations, but always practical and commercial in his advice regarding their application”. Alongside him, Seth Grosshandler is “tremendously talented and immensely knowledgeable” for transactional, regulatory and bankruptcy-related matters, and Derek Bush is often sought out by clients both at home and abroad for his regulatory know-how: he was counsel to Credit Suisse in the bank regulatory aspects of its investment in York Capital Management. Lee Buchheit’s transactional and restructuring expertise is also widely recognised by clients and peers alike. Two further colleagues are listed in the firm’s Moscow office, where Murat Akuyev and Scott Senecal both stand out.

The six nominees from Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom are split between the firm’s US and London offices. The “fantastic” William Sweet in DC heads the financial institutions regulation and enforcement group and is a former staff attorney with the Federal Reserve Board. Sarah Ward co-heads the global banking group from the New York office and “is all you could ask for in an outside counsel”, having represented financial institutions such as Barclays, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. Seth Jacobson leads the practice in Chicago where he is feted for his transactional work and Kristine Dunn scores very highly in Los Angeles. In London, Mark Darley was appointed global co-head of the banking group in 2009 and is considered “one of the best and the brightest”. He has represented clients such as Citibank, RBS and Credit Suisse. Clive Wells is similarly well regarded for his “wide-ranging and phenomenally successful banking practice.”

Ashurst is particularly strong in Australia with three partners listed. Shawn Wytenburg is considered to be “one of the finest banking lawyers in the country” and has acted for a range of commercial banks including the senior lenders in the A$2.1 billion refinancing of Coates Hire. Martin Coleman acts for investment and commercial banks as well as corporate borrowers, and has represented clients such as ANZ Bank, HSBC and BNP. The highly rated John Field heads the Australia asset finance and leasing practice. In Tokyo, John McClenahan is well regarded across a wide range of financing work, and Per Gustav Ekbom is “one of the foremost experts in Sweden”. Mark Vickers scores highly in London.

King & Wood Mallesons is similarly well represented with six lawyers included, four of whom are based in Australia. The “brilliant” Yuen-Yee Cho is global practice coordinator for banking and finance for the KWM network, and recently advised the banks on the $7.4 billion refinancing for Origin Energy. Mark Upfold’s infrastructure expertise is acknowledged by his peers, as is that of Peter Doyle. Greg Hammond is said to be one of the premier experts on Australian banking regulation. In China, Wang Ling is “an absolute star”, known for her project finance expertise as well as for the quality of her regulatory and compliance counsel. Richard Mazzochi is one of the most highly recommended experts in Hong Kong.

Also based in Australia, Allens is home to two very highly regarded lawyers. Phillip Cornwell is “phenomenally bright” and earns a place among the most highly regarded lawyers in the field overall. His finance practice, and in particular his project finance expertise, is “second to none”. Alongside him, the “fantastic” Diccon Loxton’s transactional work is also very well known and extremely well regarded.

Blake Cassels & Graydon is the leading firm in our Canadian research with five nominees selected for inclusion. Michael Harquail leads the financial services group and is one of the most highly rated banking lawyers in Canada. He recently represented JPMorgan Chase Bank as agent in connection with a US$2 billion credit facility provided to Teck Resources. Michael Matheson is regarded as a “tremendous lawyer who is always a pleasure to do business with”. Michael McIntosh is “an important player” in Calgary, while David Zacks QC is regarded as the “senior dean of British Columbia banking law” and he is joined in the Vancouver office by Michael Birch.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett has a “pre-eminent banking practice”, with five nominees divided between the New York and London offices. In the former, Lee Myerson is head of the financial institutions practice and one of the foremost practitioners in this field worldwide. “His track record is unbelievable”, said one interviewee, and it includes representing JPMorgan Chase & Co. in its $58 billion merger with Bank One Corporation, Mellon Financial in its $16.8 billion merger with The Bank of New York and The Toronto-Dominion Bank in its $8.5 billion acquisition of Commerce Bancorp. David Williams and Patrick Ryan also scored very highly in our research. In London, Euan Gorrie is “very high profile” and known for his work on transactions and consensual restructurings across Europe. Alongside him, Ian Barratt is commended for his work on behalf of both banks and borrowers.

René Bösch leads a trio of highly rated lawyers selected from Homburger in Switzerland. Head of the firm’s financial services team, he is “one of the finest legal minds I have ever come across” and is commended for his “unrivalled understanding” of all types of banking law and financial services regulation.

Bruno Balduccini of Pinheiro Neto in Brazil was feted as the “one of finest banking lawyer in Latin America” by our sources. His regulatory expertise is requested by a host of clients both domestic and international.

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Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.

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